Kidalog/Baby Love Products, Camrose, Alberta, Canada

Many of you wanted to know why we stopped recommending lambskins for infants.
In July/99 Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, and the Canadian Institute of Child Health, made a joint statement "Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" (SIDS), warning parents not to use soft bedding such as lambskins for babies under one year of age. In March of 2000, the U.S.A. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, issued the same warning. The concern is about baby re-breathing air. When we got the statement from Health Canada, I did not want to accept their advice, since our customers liked using the lambskins so much...But in addition to Health Canada's concern about re-breathing, I also came across an article in Compleat Mother magazine about crib death. Dr. Jim Sprott, OBE, MSc, PhD, FNZIC explained that poisonous gases are emitted from crib mattresses, and also from lambskins. Dr. Sprott is from New Zealand, which once had the highest SIDS rate in the world and where babies were commonly put to sleep on lambskins. His research and research from the U.K. shows that crib mattresses give off toxic gases from the fire-retardant chemicals, vinyl, and foam. His research shows that lambskins contain the elements arsenic, phosphorus, and antimony, all of which give off poisonous gases. Detailed information is at the website:
Some people from the SIDS organization disagree that toxic gases from mattresses and lambskins could be causing SIDS. It is indeed possible that other factors also affect baby's immune system so that a baby is more susceptible to toxic gases. However, the recent deaths of twins lends credence to Dr. Sprott's research. Sadly, the two month old twin girls died of SIDS on the same mattress in a shared crib, within an hour of each other. They were healthy babies.
After about 40 hours of research, I became very certain that Health Canada and the other organizations, and Dr. Sprott had very good reasons for their advice to avoid lambskins. However, the various experts cannot unanimously agree on the cause of SIDS. While the debate goes on, the best thing for parents to do, is to avoid all known risks. Every baby is precious, and at Kidalog/Baby Love, we don't sell any products which I would not use with my own children.
Grace (President & Mother of 4)
Just as we were going to press with this catalogue, I noticed signs that exterminators had put up on a local building: "Danger, phosphine gas!" Since this is one of the toxic gases which Dr. Sprott found lambskins giving off, this intrigued me. I asked the exterminators about phosphine, and they said it is so toxic that if I went inside the building, I would be DEAD WITHIN ONE MINUTE! I discussed the off-gassing of lambskins and mattresses with them, and they agreed that off-gassing could kill a baby!
(Special safety mattress covers have been designed. Click here for more information.) In Japan, cotton futons are commonly used. Futons cannot be washed, and must either be aired out in the sunshine once a month, or dry cleaned as needed. Remember that any type of mattress used in a crib must fit very snugly and be very firm, for safety reasons. To protect the futon from wetting, use a cotton pad backed with waterproof nylon (check to be sure that the waterproof coating is polyurethane, not PVC.) Futons made in North America may be treated with a chemical flame retardant; but can be made without the chemicals with a doctor's prescription.

As an alternative to lambskins, we recommend the Organic Sherpa Mattress Pad - this is an organic cotton pad that offers the softness of a lambskin without the risks.

We heard more about lambskins.....
I was just looking through your catalogue (issue #15) and have a comment about the customer response to the lambskin. She wrote that her baby slept "12 straight hours". While I'm sure that sounds great to most parents, long sleep periods are currently being questioned in pediatrics research. Nursing babies who co-sleep, nurse twice as often during the night as do crib-sleeping nursing babies, and take in three times the amount of liquid. Sleeping away from parents (especially for babies who are allowed to "cry it out") may bring longer sleep periods, but this can cause dehydration, making the baby more vulnerable to illness (and possibly SIDS). It also reduces the amount of touching and holding, a critical factor in infant health. Encouraging lengthy, undisturbed sleep may not be the best thing to recommend to new parents. Thought you'd like to have some feedback on this.
Jan Hunt, M.Sc., Director
The Natural Child Project (nonprofit)